Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

U. S. F. S. New York, 1st Rate,

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,

August 4, 1898.

S I R :--

     I enclose a copy of a telegram received on the first instant, from General Shafter,1 in answer to one which had been sent him in obedience to your telegram received by me on the 20th of July.2

     2.   I have acknowledged the receipt of this telegram, and without any argument or discussion on my part. The fact that General Shafter did not sign the terms of Capitulation may be a reason that I should not. This matter should be decided at Washington.

     3.   I beg to call your attention to the fact that, in every possible way, General Shafter has had the assistance of this fleet in compelling the surrender of the City of Santiago. Following are copies of telegrams, signals and other communications referring to the bombardment of the City of Santiago de Cuba:--

July 10th.    To Commodore Schley:--3 Begin firing as requested by General Shafter as soon as possible, using 12 and 13-inch guns of the “INDIANA” and “TEXAS”. Do not fire unless the Army is prepared to signal you fall of shots from Aguadores.

S A M P S O N .

July 10th.   dated Headquarters, 5th Army Corps. I have the honor to inform you that it is expected that the bombardment of the City of Santiago de Cuba will begin this evening or tomorrow morning. I enclose you a revised chart showing position of the American and Spanish lines.4 I will communicate to you later in the day the exact hour when the firing should begin and it is respectfully requested that you be ready to begin at 4: P.M.to-day. The falling of the first shell will be observed and the results communicated to you by signal. It would be very disastrous for the morale of my men to have any of the shell fall near them, and I think it would be better near the Bay.

     W. R. S H A F T E R , Major General, U.S.V.

July 10th. I desire you to begin firing upon Santiago de Cuba as near four P.M. to-day as possible. W. R. S H A F T E R .

July 9th. Headquarters 5th Army Corps. Messages I sent you yesterday and to-day have apparently been received by you. I have just asked that you commence firing on Santiago at four P.M. and sent you this morning our latest map of our position. Can you begin bombardment tomorrow morning? If you can, please do so and continue it as arranged with Captain Chadwick.5

W. R. S H A F T E R , Maj.Gen.   

July 10th. Dated Headquarters, 5th Army Corps, 9:10 P.M. Two maps have been sent you, one yesterday and one to-day. Have you got them?    S H A F T E R , Maj. Gen.

SIGNAL MESSAGES RECEIVED and SENT JULY 11th.

          Shore to ship, General Shafter’s compliments to Captain Chadwick;

7:50 A.M. and he wishes fire commenced early this morning. Two maps have been sent to Admiral Sampson which give the distance to the Cathedral*******.

8:10 A.M. From ship to shore:-- We are about to commence firing; will fire very slowly, and wish every shot reported.

8:40 A.M. From Flag to shore. Where did that shot fall?

8:45 A.M. From Shore to Flag. We are waiting report from front.

9:00 A.M. From Flag to shore. Ask front if fall of shot was observed?

9:15 A.M. "   "   "  Next shot will be fired at 9:25; keep sharp lookout.

9:30 A.M. From shore to ship. Your shot fell 200 yards east of Del Loute Hospital. Shot should be directed half mile further West.

9:45 A.  M.From ship to Shore: Give us the fall as quickly as possible.

9:50 A.M. From shore to ship. Second shot was well placed. A vigorous bombardment until twelve noon requested.

10:20A.M. From ship to Vesuvius. Fire shot every five minutes. Our shot are falling right, using range 8500 yards, NNW from our position.

11:25A.M.  "  "    "Pleasefire three shots every five minutes.

11:25A.M.From Ship to shore. How is our firing?

11:32A.M.From Shore to ship. Striking City with no apparent result. I think firing with big guns should begin.

S H A F T E R .

11:40A.M.Ship to Shore. Shall we cease firing at 12 o’clock?

11:45A.M.Vesuvius to Flag. Do you know how are shells are falling?

11:50A.M.From Flag to Vesuvius. Striking in City.

12:00 M. Shore to Ship. Please continue firing with heavy guns until one o’clock; then cease firing until further orders.

12:35P.M.General Castillo6 reports that Santa Anna Church has been turned into a powder magazine. S H A F T E R .

12:45P.M.Shore to ship. The church is West of Reina Mercedes barracks; discontinue at once; am going to put up a flag of truce. S H A F T E R .

4:45P.M. Vesuvius to Flag. General Shafter states fire from ships very accurate, shell falling in City. Lines have been advanced. Flag of truce went forward to demand unconditional surrender. Will communicate with you fully directly to Aguadores as to time of firing and result of truce.

12:P.M. YALE to Flagship. Admiral, I would like to land troops from Columbia, YALE and Duchess to the west of the Bay of Santiago Harbor and follow it up with additional troops, moving east against the Spanish troops defending Santiago on the West. I will be glad if you can designate the most available point for disembarking the troops and render all the assistance practicable to the troops as they move East. Will notify you when troops are ready for the movement. If you have an Officer conversant with the locality, will be glad to see him.

N E L S O N  A . M I L E S . Gen’l. Comd’g.7

 June 12th.

1:50P.M. To Major General Shafter: Admiral Sampson proposes to begin bombardment tomorrow morning with 13-inch shell, unless there are reasons for not doing so. Will General Shafter please inform him of the distance of the fall of the shot from the cathedral, using the cathedral as a point of reference, and he would like particularly to know immediately if any shell fall in the water.

2:20 P.M. Flag to shore. For Commodore Watson,8 Guantanamo. Send Oregon and Massachusetts to Santiago for one days bombardment of City with 13-inch shell. They should arrive Wednesday morning. Shell will be supplied Oregon.

S A M P S O N .

2:28 P.M. Shore to Flag. In message this morning; where did you say fires were seen?

8:05 P.M. YALE to Flag. General Miles is still at the front, and will remain there tonight. He desires General Garretson9 to be ready to land early tomorrow morning.

8:10 P.M. Flag to YALE. Where will troops land, and is our assistance needed?

8:25 P.M. YALE to Flag. Do not know; but assistance will be needed.

9:15 P.M. Flag to YALE. General Shafter telegraphs that truce will exist throughout tomorrow.

July 12th.

A truce exists and negotiations are now pending with Spanish commander.10 All firing must be discontinued during the cessation of hostilities. Due notice of the commencement will be given you.

S H A F T E R ,    Maj.Gen.

Dated Santiago, July 12th; A truce now exists and will probably continue all day tomorrow the thirteenth.

S H A F T E R .

July 13. To General Shafter. I am now prepared to shell the City of Santiago with three of my largest iron-clads with 13-inch projectiles. Can commence at short notice. Will await your signal.

9:05 A.M. As Commander in Chief of the Naval Forces engaged in joint operations, I expect to be represented in any conference held to arrange the terms of the surrender of Santiago, including the surrender of the shipping in the harbor. Questions are involved of importance to both branches of the service. S A M P S O N .11

2:40 P.M. From shore to ship. To Admiral Sampson. I shall be glad to have you represented, but difficult to let you know; conference may take place at any hour. I should recommend that you send an Officer for that purpose to remain at my headquarters. Should it not be convenient for you to do so, I will endeavor to give notice and see that an officer can be present when final terms are agreed.

S H A F T E R .12

6:45 P.M. Shore to ship. Headquarters, 5th Army Corps. We will send important dispatch by Mr. Hobson13 to you this evening. Please have boat for him. He leave at six o’clock.

M I L E S .

July 14th.

2:23 P.M. To Admiral Sampson, The enemy has surrendered; will be down and see you soon. M I L E S .

2:35 P.M. Flag to shore: Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C. “Santiago Has Surrendered.” S A M P S O N .

1:15 P.M. Shore to Flag. I will be glad if you will send to these Headquarters an Officer to represent you during negotiations for evacuation. M I L E S .

6:A.M. Shore to Flag. July 13th, 1898. To Admiral Sampson. Message about being ready to open fire with 13-inch guns received. Thanks; I believe they will surrender before noon tomorrow. If not, I will want you to open fire. I will notify you. S H A F T E R .

Very respectfully,

W. T. Sampson               

Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy,   

Commander in Chief, U.S.Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.     

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 237. Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Deartment,/Washington, D.C.” Document reference: “N o . 3 0 3 .” Docketed: “U.S. Flagship New York, 1st Rate,/Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,/August 4, 1898./ S A M P S O N , W . T . ,/Rear Admiral, U.S.Navy,/Commander in Chief, U.S.Naval Force,/North Atlantic Station./Referring to assistance rendered/the Army by the U. S. Vessels; and/telegram received from General W.R./Shafter re. Capitulation articles./One enclosure.” Bureau of Navigation stamp date 18 Aug. 1898 and reference no. “132674” in the center. Handwritten note beneath the date line indicates the letter was later associated with “Aug 1.”

Footnote 1: Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter.

Footnote 3: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Second Blockading Squadron.

Footnote 4: The chart has not been found.

Footnote 5: Capt. French E. Chadwick.

Footnote 6: Gen. Demetrio Castillo Duany.

Footnote 7: Gen. Nelson A. Miles.

Footnote 8: Commo. John C. Watson, Commander, Eastern Squadron.

Footnote 9: Gen. George A. Garretson.

Footnote 10: Gen. José Toral y Vázquez.

Footnote 11: Assistant Naval Constructor Richmond P. Hobson.

Footnote 12: A copy of this telegram is in the William R. Shafter Papers, DLC-MSS.

Footnote 13: A copy of this telegram is in the William R. Shafter Papers, DLC-MSS.

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